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New Left Review 101, September-October 2016

william davies


In a July 2015 interview, the former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave an insight into his exchanges with the representatives of Greece’s creditors at eu Finance Ministers’ meetings. What stood out was his depiction of almost surreal levels of incomprehension: ‘You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on—to make sure it’s logically coherent—and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem.’ [1] Yanis Varoufakis, ‘My five-month battle to save Greece’, New Statesman, 16 July 2015. The promise of a common European public sphere, bound together by reasoned deliberation, which has enamoured liberals for over two hundred years, appears broken. The post-war reconstitution of this project, which placed the Common Market at its heart, has reached its limit, as many of its former enthusiasts now accept. Varoufakis’s comment is symptomatic of a new strain of political dissent that cannot be simply classed as critique. Rather, it is an expression of bewilderment that dominant forms of economic regulation persist, apparently impervious to evidence, evaluation or the merits of alternatives. Once critique is no longer even heard or recognized, critics may as well say anything.

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William Davies, ‘The New Neoliberalism’, NLR 101: £3

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